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New to growing your own tomatoes? This is the forum to learn the successful techniques used by seasoned tomato growers. Questions are welcome, too.

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Old April 24, 2017   #1
Greatgardens
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Default What's your idea of the "best" tomato starting mix?

For me it has been Metro-Mix or the like for many years. Now, I prefer Pro-Mix Premium Organic with some added perlite plus a small layer of vermiculite on top for easier germination.

What do you like?

-GG
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Old April 24, 2017   #2
Randall
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Pro-Mix Premium Organic looks great.

I've always used Foxfarm Light Warrior. After reading about the Pro-Mix, they seem fairly similar.
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Old April 24, 2017   #3
Ricky Shaw
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Sterile as possible, soilless high-porosity mixes. PromixHP I've used, and is outstanding. The Fox Farm Light Warrior is the ultimate, people I trust here and the hydro store say the same thing.

Past the fact of clean soilless, whether the media is pre-charged with ferts becomes the second consideration. If it's not charged, then a nutrient plan needs to be in effect from just after true leaves emerge.

I've also germinated in all the following easy made mixes to good success:

peat or coco-coir, or in a blend, and 30%-40% perlite
DE straight: diatomaceous earth, ie floor dry
50% perlite/ 50% vermiculite
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Old April 27, 2017   #4
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I use miracle grow potting mix. It is cheap and works great for me. They have cut down on the sticks and wood pieces in the last few bags i bought. Paying extra for those premium mixes to me is not necessary.
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Old April 27, 2017   #5
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I use Miracle Grow Seed Starting Mix. But, I sift it to remove the larger pieces found in it. I add some Biotone to it to help with micros. I usually use two bags each year, which accommodates 4 each of the 72 cell flats. I keep them inside in a temperature controlled room where 80 degrees F is maintained until time for potting up.

At potting up, they go out into the garage and the temp is lowered to about 65 F. Until the seedling has a full set of real leaves, I do not add fertilizer. Watering is kept up, but only to keep the mix from drying out completely. For all of my container plants, I will use MG potting mix with some amendments. For my garden plants, I will plant the entire root ball (usually a 9 oz plastic cup full) into a hole and tamp it in.

Here's why I use MG. I feel it keeps the plant in a consistent medium and that means less stress. I think that I get healthier plants and better production because the plant is not so much concerned about its environment. It doesn't have to keep on "recovering" from another change to its world.

Yes, I'm weird, but this is how I've always done this. I keep things consistent to keep the plants happy.

And, yes, they talk to me about this stuff.
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Old April 27, 2017   #6
Cole_Robbie
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This year I mixed extra perlite in my pro mix, soaked that in a container of water, removed it, dropped seeds, and covered in about a quarter inch of vermiculite. Then I misted the vermiculite with a spray bottle to wet it.
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Old April 27, 2017   #7
ContainerTed
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
This year I mixed extra perlite in my pro mix, soaked that in a container of water, removed it, dropped seeds, and covered in about a quarter inch of vermiculite. Then I misted the vermiculite with a spray bottle to wet it.
I load a 72 cell tray with mix, flood the tray from below and set aside to allow the water to be drawn up. When I see dampness in the top of the cells, I pour off the remaining water and set the tray in my "staging" area for overnight. Next day, I pour out any other remaining water in the catch tray and begin planting. This also allows the temperature of the mix to stabilize to the room temperature overnight. Again, this is one of the things I do as a stress deterrent - no shocking temp changes during germination. I actually use skin temperature (warm/comfortable to the skin = usually around 85 F.) water for all the germination steps.

While what I do is not everybody's panacea, I do get very good results. This year, I tested some Tommy Toe (red) seeds that I had saved back in 2004. My germination rate was above 97%. I thought the rate would be something like 30% and had to move the contents of the cell quickly as it filled up with seedlings.

Anyhow, as George Peppard said to "Mr. T" so many times, "I love it when a plan comes together".
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Old April 27, 2017   #8
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Potting soil in trays without cells,anything that will fit under the lights preferably with lots of soil.
Survival of the fittest mode until the outdoor transition.
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Old April 28, 2017   #9
Lee
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Metro Mix 360 is the best I've used.... consistently good results and
germination.

Lee
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Old April 29, 2017   #10
oakley
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Sterile. Soilless. Dry.

I got a text from a family member asking if i needed anything from a big box store.
"bag of starting mix"

It was heavy and wet so i knew it was old stock. Left it outside in the snow decided to
just use it later for top dressing outdoor plants. Someone brought it in and i did not
notice. (may have been my fungus gnat/aphid trouble?)

When i found it i took it out on the deck in Feb. and it was full of mold and sprouting
seeds.... (sprouting seeds?!)

Gave it a kettle hot water bath and tossed it in some outdoor containers.
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Old May 3, 2017   #11
Greatgardens
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That's a good point about choosing your bags carefully at the store. I've also used Miracle-Gro, but to me it is like the "box of chocolates" -- every bag seems different. Fine for containers, but to much "chunky stuff" that has to be sifted out to be a good seed starting mix without a lot of extra work. I still sift the Pro-Mix Organic, but so far, way less debris than MG. Btw, Menards has the Pro-Mix Organic on sale through the 7th for $4.99/ cf bag. I've also had good luck with the bagged Burpee Organic Starting Mix, but I even add extra perlite to it. Really, lots of good choices, and we can make most of them work well!
-GG

Last edited by Greatgardens; May 3, 2017 at 04:03 AM.
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Old May 3, 2017   #12
Father'sDaughter
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Default What's your idea of the "best" tomato starting mix?

I switched to DE a couple of years ago and never looked back!
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Old May 3, 2017   #13
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I use Rockwool cubes for seeds and Coco Coir for air layering plants.
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Old May 3, 2017   #14
Durgan
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Default Home made.

I make my own every year. Ingredients vary depending on at what is available.


http://www.durgan.org/URL/?DQJED 17 September 2014 Seedling and Potting soil
Home, Seeding and Potting Mix was made and stored in the greenhouse. Quantity was 332 liters. Ingredients are compost base, bedding wood chips, mason sand, garden soil, 202020 fertilizer, and coconut fiber. Quantities of each was subjective based on experience. The ingredients were well mixed using the small Honda rototiller.
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Old May 13, 2017   #15
MuddyToes
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Jiffy mix topped off with coco coir. Sometimes I add some vermiculite if I have any on hand.
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